Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus and Michael the archangel are the same person. They believe that all the references to an archangel throughout the Bible are referring to Jesus. This can take some Christians off guard when first hearing it. They use a number of verses to support this claim and come to their conclusion that Jesus is not God. Was Jesus an angel? Here are a few ways to understand the question and respond.
Motivations Behind the Claim
I don’t want to always assume that people have an ulterior motive for their arguments, but it is hard to ignore in this case. One of the critical distinctions between Christianity and Jehovah’s Witnesses is the disagreement over the deity of Jesus. They say that Jesus was not God but another created being. Keep that in mind when examining the verses used to support their claim. Concluding that Jesus was an angel makes very little sense from these verses unless you already have that conclusion in mind when reading.
Their Argument Summarized
Their claim goes something like this. Since verses like Jude 9 state “the archangel,” there must be only one. Revelation 12:7 talks about “Michael and his angels,” fighting against Satan. However, other verses like 2 Thessalonians 1:7 talk about Jesus and “his powerful angels.” Then in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jesus returns “with the voice of an archangel.” Since there can only be one archangel, and there wouldn’t be two different people leading the angels, Michael must be another name for Jesus.
Since we are not supposed to worship angels, we must therefore not worship Jesus.
It is an interesting argument but does not hold up very well to scrutiny. They baselessly assume that there can be only one archangel, that only one being would lead the other angels, and that having the voice of an archangel means you must be one.
Even just to put it in human terms, we might talk about a general or captain leading his men into battle. However, on plenty of occasions, the king might step in and lead. There is no contradiction in two beings leading angels.
I think their point about the voice of an archangel proves the opposite. If Jesus is the archangel, you would not need to specify that he spoke with the voice of an archangel. It’s not noteworthy when a pastor speaks with the voice of a pastor or a news anchor speaks with the voice of a news anchor. Also, by their same logic, is Jesus a trumpet, since he also comes with the trumpet call of God?
The True Identity of Jesus
Their claim that Jesus was an angel is flimsy at best. You would think that the central figure in the Bible would have his identity laid out a bit more clearly. In fact, it was. We see it made explicit that Jesus was God incarnate. Jesus claimed to be God, never referencing being an angel (John 1:1, barring their mistranslation of the verse, John 8:58, John 10:30). Others understood that he claimed to be God (John 10:33, Mark 14:64). Jesus did things only God should do, like forgive sins and accept worship (Matthew 9, John 20:28, Matthew 14:33, 28:17). Their argument is a forced interpretation to avoid concluding that Jesus was who he said he was.
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